OARC Update

A bimonthly newsletter of the
Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel



In this month’s What You Need to Know, we profile information regarding deadline reminders, recent rule amendments, proposed rule amendments, and a recent ethics opinion.

Important CLE compliance reminder

All active Colorado attorneys under age 72 must earn 45 credits, including 7 ethics credits, every three years by the end of the third year.  That means roughly one-third of active Colorado attorneys have a compliance deadline coming up in less than two months -- by December 31, 2020.  That is quickly approaching!  Be sure to check here to confirm you have met or are on your way to meeting this requirement.  Programs that already have been accredited can be found here. OARC also offers a free on-line self-assessment that qualifies for CLE credit, which can be accessed here.  

New contingent fee rule and form agreement

The Colorado Supreme Court recently adopted Rule Changes 2020(30) and 2020(31), which address contingent fees. Effective January 1, 2021, C.R.C.P. 23.3, governing contingent fees, is repealed and reenacted as amended in Colo. RPC 1.5(c). Amended Rule 1.5 also now includes an amended form Contingent Fee Agreement.

  • With the new amendments, C.R.C.P. 23.3 has been eliminated and relevant provisions regarding contingent fees have been moved to Rule 1.5(c), including the required disclosures for contingent fees.
  • The “substantial compliance” requirement for enforceability of a contingent fee agreement remains unchanged. Colo. RPC 1.5(c)(6).
  • Among other changes, lawyers must alert clients that if the lawyer wishes to hire a lawyer in another firm to assist with the matter, the lawyer will inform the client of the identity of the associated counsel and that the hiring will not increase the contingent fee unless the client agrees in writing, and further, that the client has the right to disapprove the hiring of associated counsel, and discharge associated counsel if one is hired. Colo. RPC 1.5(c)(1)(viii).
  • Comment 6B alerts lawyers that, “A provision in a contingent fee agreement in which the client must reimburse the lawyer for any attorney fees or costs awarded against the lawyer may be improper.”
  • Some of the formalistic requirements for the execution of contingent fees have been eliminated.
To review amended Rule 1.5, click here.  To access a Word version of the form Contingent Fee Agreement, click here.

Proposed changes to admissions rules affecting out-of-state attorneys

The Colorado Supreme Court is considering changes to attorney admissions rules that would affect attorneys licensed elsewhere or who took a uniform bar exam elsewhere who are seeking to be admitted in Colorado.  The proposal pertains to Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure 203.2, 203.3, 203.4, 205.3, 205.4, 205.6, 208.2, and 209.5 , and would, among other things:

  • Eliminate the requirement for reciprocity for on-motion applicants as long as they had been admitted through a bar examination in another United States jurisdiction;
  • Extend the duration of validity for an MPRE score for all applicants from two years to five years, and allow applicants with 15 years or more of practice time to not have to retake the MPRE to be admitted in Colorado;
  • Allow an attorney licensed in another state who has applied for admission in Colorado and been authorized for practice pending admission to appear in state courts or state agencies without having to seek pro hac vice permission if that attorney is employed by a state or local governmental agency or nonprofit legal services provider; and
  • Change requirements for applicants who receive their law degree from a foreign school to allow admission based on educational equivalency rather than limiting admission to those who are from English-speaking common law countries.
Written comments should be submitted to Cheryl Stevens, Clerk of the Supreme Court.  Comments may be mailed or delivered to 2 East 14th Avenue, Denver, CO 80203 or emailed to and received no later than 5:00 p.m. on December 7, 2020. 


ABA Ethics Opinion 494

In late July 2020, the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Opinion 494 Conflicts Arising Out of a Lawyer’s Personal Relationship with Opposing Counsel. The Opinion discusses three categories of personal relationships with opposing counsel that might affect the lawyer’s representation of a client, including intimate relationships, friendships and acquaintances. For each category, the Opinion discusses when a lawyer needs to disclose the relationship to the affected client, and whether the lawyer needs to obtain informed consent pursuant to Model Rule 1.7.  The Opinion notes that whether disclosure is required, the lawyer may determine to disclose the relationship to maintain good client relations. ABA Formal Opinion 494 


Can Out-of-State Attorneys Reside in Colorado?

Lawyers licensed and in good standing in a jurisdiction other than Colorado may wish to move to Colorado but continue their existing practice.  Can they do so without being engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, in violation of Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5?   Or do they need to apply for admission in Colorado?  While OARC does not issue ethics opinions or provide legal advice, it encounters this question frequently.  The answer is:  "it depends."  
Resident lawyers licensed in another state with an exclusively federal or tribal law practice do not need a Colorado law license, though they remain subject to OARC's regulatory jurisdiction for their work in Colorado and/or with Colorado clients.  Also, OARC generally does not interpret the Supreme Court's rules governing attorneys to necessarily require Colorado licensure if the resident lawyers are engaged in a state law practice based on the attorney's jurisdiction of licensure when that practice does not require appearances in Colorado courts or application of Colorado law.  However, potential clients with state law needs generally assume that individuals who hold themselves out as lawyers in Colorado are licensed to practice law in Colorado.  If a lawyer residing in Colorado is working for a law firm with a Colorado office, and the lawyer's practice is not exclusively based in federal or tribal law, that lawyer likely should be licensed to practice in Colorado.
Lawyers licensed elsewhere seeking to move to Colorado should closely examine the details of their practices, their plans for business development or future practice areas, and their professional profiles to evaluate whether a Colorado license is required, and review Colo. RPC 5.5 and the C.R.C.P. 204 series and 205 series.  If necessary, seek the advice of counsel. 



In many ways, law is like a marathon. COLAP’s Program Manager, Carrie Bowers explains how we can apply tips for marathon training to the practice of law. The Law is Like a Marathon: Tips for Resiliency


As we near the end of the year, our office is preparing to send out registration statements. Be sure our office has your current contact information. To update your information, you may notify the office in writing by sending a letter, or by using the change of address form. You may also contact us by email to report any changes.


Nov. 1 Application filing deadline for February 2021 bar exam
Nov. 5 Annual Appellate CLE, Ethics Panel webinar (Jessica Yates)
Nov. 9 Ethics presentation, Law in the Trenches, Southwest Colorado Bar Association webinar (Alan Obye and Catherine Shea)
Nov. 9 Ethics presentation, Office of the Child’s Representative webinar (April McMurrey)

Nov. 10 What's Next, 2020? Current Ethical Issues and Updates, Douglas Elbert Bar Association webinar (Jane Cox)
Nov. 10 Language Barriers and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, Spanish Speaking Lawyers Committee webinar (E. James Wilder)

Nov. 13 Ethics update, CBA Presidential Virtual Visit Weld County webinar (Jessica Yates)
Nov. 13 Ethics 7.0 What’s New in Attorney Regulation, CBA-CLE webinar (Greg Sapakoff)


Dec. 1 Late application filing deadline for February 2021 bar exam
Dec. 1 The online registration system will be available starting on this date to complete the registration statement and pay the annual fee
Dec. 9 Proactive Practices to Avoid Ethics Complaints, LawBank Colorado webinar (Jonathan White)
Dec. 9 Working with Attorneys Presentation, SCAO New Judge Orientation webinar (Jessica Yates)
Dec. 14 Practicing with Professionalism, CBA-CLE webinar
Dec. 15 What's Next, 2020?  Current Ethical Issues and Updates, Weld County Bar Association webinar (Jane Cox)
Dec. 16 The Current State of Lawyer Well-Being, CBA-CLE webinar (Jonathan White, co-presenting with COLAP’s Sarah Myers and CAMP’s Ryann Peyton)
Dec. 31 The deadline for completing CLEs for attorneys with a compliance period ending on December 31, 2020. CLE credits completed by December 31, 2020 can be entered into the online system until January 31, 2021.

Jan. 11 Practicing with Professionalism, CBA-CLE webinar
Jan. 14 Herding the Cats: Effective Strategies for Leading Lawyers and Non-Lawyers Alike, CBA Presidential Virtual Visit Boulder County webinar (Jessica Yates)
Jan. 21 Mentoring Ethics and Resources, New Solo Lawyer Series, CBA Business Law & Solo Small Firm Sections and Young Lawyers Division (Jonathan White)
Jan. 31 This is the last day to report CLE credits without penalty for the three-year compliance period ending December 31, 2020.

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